A website, much like a résumé, is intended to reflect your best self. Color schemes, crisp images, and user interface design are all integral to a successful website—as are font choices. All these choices together let visitors know how serious and effective you are as a business. Poor design with a horrible font will certainly turn business away.
For fonts, the goal is to be compatible for all devices, legible, and modern. Check out my list of 6 fonts you should never use on your website.
If you want a design to say "I don't care," then I have the perfect option for you. Say hello to what is known as the poor man's Helvetica: Arial. Although this font comes in twenty variations, none of them should be used on your website.
Here's a quick backstory: nearly 30 years after Helvetica was designed, a 10-person team created Arial for Microsoft. With all character widths identical, they designed the font to be a shameless impostor of Helvetica to avoid paying royalties. That's why I've got beef with Arial. I'm a huge fan of using Helvetica in design—it's clean, legible and modern. But I find Arial to be just plain ugly. The quirks that were added to avoid licensing issues now make the font unattractive.
2. Times New Roman
Nothing says double-spaced, 1-inch margins, and staying up all night to finish a paper that you procrastinated on than Times New Roman. This font, along with most serif fonts, is painful to read on the web, but that doesn't mean that there aren't cases where serifs are okay. If a designer wants to evoke a traditional, intelligent, or warm feeling, a serif font might be a good choice when choosing web fonts.
However, being the default system font for modern day computers, using Times New Roman makes it look like the designer didn't put in any effort. People see this font enough in their day to day life that they don't want to encounter it on the web too. While it's not the worst font on this list, there are definitely better alternatives. If your designer wants to use a serif font in a web design, try Arvo or Volkhorn instead!
3. Courier New
This is an example of how culture affects your perception of fonts. Courier New was designed to mimic old school memos written on typewriters. This font is suitable for things like coding or plain text documents, but as an art element, Courier New is a poor choice. Since typewriters are obsolete, using this font will give your website a painfully dated look. Not to mention that, like Times New Roman, serif fonts are not so fun to read on a screen.
Impact, one of the worlds' most popular header fonts, used to be good. But if you're into lolcats, you probably know that the internet has adopted Impact as the meme font. And that's really the only place it belongs these days.
While Impact does have some good things going for it, such as readability, this font is currently too recognizable to be used on websites, which is why most designers pretend it no longer exists. If your designer wants an alternative to Impact, try League Gothic or Bebas Neue. They're some of my all time favorites fonts to design with.
5. Comic Sans
I'm sure this font needs no introduction, but here it is: Comic Sans, everyone. Comic Sans is the insidious little troll of the font world. You'll find it lurking on community newsletters or on food labels at the buffet restaurant, and it just seems like there's no escape. The problem with using this font is that nobody will take you seriously or even bother reading what you have to say.
Comic Sans has such a horrible reputation in the design community due to its misuse; there are even petitions and websites dedicated to banning the font. Originally created to be used in comic books, the childish and casual style has since been used in far too many serious designs where it doesn't belong. Because of its notoriety, Comic Sans shouldn't be on any website, no matter what the context (Unless it's a website for people with dyslexia. Apparently Comic Sans is extemely helpful if you're dyslexic, so at least it has that going for it).
I remember being so happy when I first found out about Lobster. It's a beautiful font—I couldn't wait to get my hands on the condensed script and make some retro designs. Unfortunately for Lobster, though, everybody and their mother thought the same thing. It's since been overused and abused by designers.
Some have called this typeface the new Comic Sans (ouch), but I wouldn't go that far to disrespect Lobster. When used as a title font, it can look great, but because it's so recognizable to designers, it has no place on the web. As much as I love Lobster, it's free—and free will always be abused.
So there you have it. Those are my top 6 worst fonts a designer can use in web design. Disagree with me? Thinking of some awful ones that I missed? Leave your comments below. I'd love to hear your opinions!